Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Letter to My Daughter on Beauty

Dear Cali,

You don't know it yet but your dad and I tell you that you're beautiful every day. And we believe it. We think you're the most beautiful baby God has ever created. But it wouldn't matter what you looked like, really, your dad and I would still think that because you're ours. But as cliche as it sounds, beauty is only skin deep and it's not the be all end all.

Now I'm not going to sit here and pretend that you will never have to struggle with not liking part of yourself. I'm female and I've been a teenage girl before. I know what it's like to look in the mirror and hate what you see; to never be satisfied with how you look. I know how it feels to be on a merry-go-round of over indulgence and guilt. I'd be naive to think that you'll never deal with any of those issues on some level.

I can hope and pray but I know better.

I would love to sit here and say "Don't worry about what you look like on the outside. Be a good person and it'll all be OK". But that's not how the world works is it? People are cruel and people are mean spirited. No matter how beautiful you are or what you look like on the outside, small-minded people will always find a way to bring you down. It's what they do and it has nothing to do with you. People that don't love themselves can't show love to anyone else.

Now that... that is what I want you to learn. How to love yourself.

People in the world have different standards of beauty and you can't be everything for everyone. Society and social media will give you one version, your dad and I will give you another, your friends will have yet another idea of what beauty looks like, and you'll even have your own standards. There are all different variations of people. You have tall and thin, short and stocky, short and thin, tall and thick, medium and medium, etc. No two people are made the same and that's what beauty is. The world is a beautiful place because of diversity. All of us together, our differences, make up beauty. Accept the fact that you'll never be anything other than what God made you, and you will have come a lot further than most.

It's true that I want you to be OK with how you look. No matter what we wish the world was like, it's not a nice place sometimes and to get through it you need to be confident in yourself. I want you to find the parts of your outward appearance that you like and focus on those; forget the rest that you can't change.

But more than that, I want you to be good. You'll hear the phrase "It's what is on the inside that counts" so much that you'll forget to actually listen to it. It has become a cliche for a reason and that reason is that it's true.

Yes. Outward beauty makes the world a little easier. I'll concede to that fact. But you could be the most beautiful person in the world (which I happen to think you are but I'm your mom so I guess I don't count) but if you treat people with hatred or unkindness, people won't stick around very long. So I'll say this to you again...

Be good.

Be accepting of people that aren't just like you. This includes not only how they look but how they think and their beliefs. Stand firm in yours but allow love to pour out to them even if their views don't line up with yours.

Be kind to everyone. Even the people that aren't kind to you. You can't control how anyone else acts or reacts but you can control yourself. So, be kind without expecting kindness in return.

Be generous. You can never give too much; whether it's a helping hand, money, clothes, time, or just a smile. Be generous with the things that you've been blessed with.

Be forgiving. We are forgiven so who are we to withhold that from anyone? Forgive. Always.

Be patient. People and circumstances will not always go your way. Be patient with them and understanding of others' situations. Everyone has a story and you don't know what makes them the way they are.

Be humble. Humility is a fine line. Learn it.

Be honest. Truth and honesty make you a trustworthy person. That's more valuable than a lot of people believe. To be trusted is one of the greatest rewards in life.

Be selfless. Always put other peoples' feelings ahead of your own. The world will tell you differently; don't listen.

And be loving. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. It makes the world go 'round.

And these things, Cali... These things are true beauty.


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